Turning Point: An Agenda for Oregon’s Future

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Governor’s Proposed 2019-2021 Budget Focuses on Education, Climate Change, and Defending Democracy

Oregon is at a turning point. Hundreds of thousands of people have moved here in the past 20 years, and a million more are on their way. We’ve done some good things over the years, but our state is changing, and changing rapidly. With the aging of Oregon’s baby boomer generation, and the impacts of recent dramatic federal tax changes and burgeoning federal deficits exacerbating these changes, one thing is clear: we can no longer do things the way we have in the past. We must grow up as a state, and we need to decide—together—what we want to be over the next 20 years. The challenges of affordability, of educating our kids, of mitigating the effects of climate change, and of maintaining a strong democracy will not get better unless we change our approach.

Our current strong economy gives us the best chance in a generation to address persistent, structural challenges so we can achieve our full potential. We must accept this challenge now, while the economy is good.

My proposed 2019-2021 budget represents both my priorities for the operation of state government over the next two years, and my policy agenda as Governor. The juncture our state is at demands that our state government act now on the values that all Oregonians share:

  1. We must renew and strengthen Oregonians’ faith in democracy. While Oregon is at the forefront of voter access, to maintain a strong democracy, we must take further actions to reduce the flow of money into politics, increase accountability, and ensure voter accessibility.
  2. We must spend every dollar wisely. I have worked for the past several years to hold state government accountable to carefully allocating taxpayer dollars, essentially squeezing every bit of toothpaste out of the tube before we buy more toothpaste. I am furthering that focus in this budget by streamlining state agencies, eliminating our permitting backlog, and modernizing state IT systems to operate more efficiently.
  3. We must address the affordability crisis. For too many Oregonians, the costs of housing, health care, child care, and higher education have outpaced their ability to thrive. This budget makes a historic investment in housing, makes strides towards more affordable health care and child care, and works to match higher education with the skills employers need at costs Oregonians can afford.
  4. We must prepare for the future. Now is the time to invest in common sense policy to address the root causes of poverty and addiction, to cap and reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions at the least possible cost, and to increase our preparedness for a Cascadia-level earthquake.
  5. We must finally fix our underfunded education system. In addition to my proposed base budget, I have added a $2 billion education investment package that will transform opportunities for our state and her people. From preschool to K-12 to universities and community colleges, my plan aligns with the priorities of the Student Success Committee and the Oregon Business Plan. This is emblematic of the broad agreement among Oregonians that we must address the long-term structural obstacles to improving our education system.

My values of accountability and promoting opportunity for all Oregonians, particularly rural residents, communities of color, and low-income communities, are the lens through which the budget was crafted.

It was also crafted with the understanding that states can no longer count on a strong partnership with the federal government to achieve mutual goals. Rather, Oregon must work independently and with other states to navigate our relationship with the federal government when protecting the values Oregonians hold.

Never has Oregon’s motto rung more true, “She Flies with Her Own Wings.” My budget finds inspiration in this pioneering spirit in securing a promising future for the next generation of Oregonians.

About Author

Kate Brown, Oregon’s 38th Governor, has dedicated her life to standing up for Oregon’s families and ensuring every Oregonian has the chance to lead a good life. Under Governor Brown’s leadership, state government is committed to using every taxpayer dollar wisely, to creating a seamless system of education, to making Oregon a leader in meeting the challenge of climate change, and to making sure everyone has access to the health care.

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